Thursday 27 February 2020

Time alone or rebound?...The red flag of grief...

Humans are not solitary creatures and we thrive when we have a network or community around us. This network might be made up of family, friends, acquaintances, partners, lovers or colleagues but none the less it is important not to isolate ourselves at all times.

However, I am a firm believer that we should embrace and encourage alone time. After all we are the the only person that really knows our thoughts and feelings. No matter how close you are to someone no one really knows what others are thinking or feeling. 

I guess it is fair to say we can be our own best friend and own worst enemy.

Since leaving home for the very first time at the tender age of 20, I have lived with a variety of different people. I have lived with parents, friends, prisoners, boyfriends, in a house share with dirty boys, who had no idea what a toilet brush was! and more recently I have had lodgers.

Between those times I have lived alone. I can be quite adaptable when I have to be. 

During the times of living alone, which has amounted to probably about 10 years. I can honestly say that it has been good for my soul. Admittedly it is far nicer living alone when you have other external things going on outside of the home so that when you do have time out you appreciate it. 

The times when I have felt the loneliest is when I haven't had many external factors outside of the home life causing me to feel quite isolated.

There has been times in my life when all I wished for was peace and quiet. For example, In my 20's I had a flat that was near the local pubs and I forever had someone knocking at my flat door, so the times I had alone I truly cherished. 

Nowadays, I really appreciate people visiting as due to my current situation I am finding myself quite isolated.

However, I do believe that time alone gives you time to reflect, grow and understand yourself and process life events.

I am alone most of the time. I live alone, I am single, I sit in an office alone at work (most of the time), I am not particularly close to my siblings, my parents are elderly so don't see them as often, my friends are in relationships or have children so they don't have as much spare time. You can read about that in the post "kids are like farts, I just about tolerate my own" So when all is said and done I spend an awful lot of time in my own company. 

I actually quite like it. I make myself laugh, cry and have the best ideas! and yes, I frequently talk to myself, my fish and my dog when I can!

Recently I have had to put some of my hobbies on hold due to physical problems I am having with my knees which has caused some isolated feelings and a low sense of mood, but I do know that this is a temporary feeling.

I am currently single following spending a significant amount of time with someone I truly cared for. Although it has been difficult and painful having to deal with negative emotions, I feel that my alone time has actually given me time to grieve the time I shared with him and process the loss of the relationship I had with him. So all is not lost and is actually a real healthly place to be. I am learning about myself and thinking about new ideas, concepts and doing things just for me! I have have seen a relationship counsellor who has been working in that sector for over 25 years who is extremely experienced in the relationship breakdown process. 

Alone time and rebound has been a topic frequently discussed and it always comes down to the same formulations of giving yourself time and not rushing into something new and to go through the process of loss and grief head on instead of finding the replacement to sooth our egos and self worth.

So although humans aren't solitary creatures and don't thrive for longer periods when alone. I do believe there is a real need to have alone time when dealing with a loss and relationship breakdown.

When we lose a relationship of any kind whether that be a friendship, romantic lover, husband/wife, colleague, parent what ever or who ever it is. I truly believe we need time alone to grieve. The loss might be through breakup, falling out or death but ultimately they are all loses and need to be grieved for.

We all deal with things very differently but having read a lot about loss, relationship breakdown and grief the cycle is still the same. We fluctuate between emotions of denial, anger, guilt, reconstruction, depression, bargaining and acceptance. In no particular order and can flit between these varying emotions periodically through out the days, weeks, months and sometimes even years.

I think the main thing is to have time to yourself to feel and really experience these emotions. Time for everyone is different but I think jumping into situations to make up for or to alleviate the grief initially is never a good idea. 

We all know if we rush into situations and replace the life we had with another so rapidly is not going to be healthy as we need to go through the process of grief to ultimately come to terms with the loss.

Yes, indeed it will be a varying amount of time from one individual to another but too soon is too soon. 

If you suddenly find yourself "replacing" the hurt you are feeling by masking it with trading it in by forming a connection with someone or something that makes you feel better short term it is unlikely that you will have processed the grief sufficiently to move on. 

The problem is with this replacement, it is just masking and not having that alone time will undoubtedly bite you in the ass later down the line as the new situation  or person might not actually be all it cracked up to be when replacing the old one.

A good example of this is rebound relationships!....

Most of us have experienced a rebound relationship, whether we are the person who attempts to move on trying to hide the symptoms of the pain we are experiencing by replacing them with someone new or the other party where we are taken in by someone looking to replace something that caused them pain.

During this time, after a relationship/marriage has ended. Starting a new relationship can feel like suddenly the world is a far better place. The hurt and loss that we have recently been experiencing can somewhat reduce or in fact disappear. We suddenly feel like the new situation is even better than the last. Who wouldn't want to feel this? I mean surely it feels better to be feel happy, content, to feel loved, sexy and appreciated than to feel sad, lonely, upset, anxious and depressed? Right???

For most people in this situation they are just craving the attention, sexual desire, peace and love that they weren't experiencing previously and then out of no where get it from someone or something else. Awesome! It is going to feel so good.

Sure, this is great because it can feel like it helps us in the emotional steps of grief. We have a new outlet to focus our emotions on and everything seems so much easier. 

But are we just putting a temporary fix or band aid on how we really feel? 

Most re-bounders are likely to say No to that question, purely because they are in denial! Because it feels so good, even better than the last. 

Most of the time it is lust disguised as love. It is because we are searching and longing for what was missing in the previous relationship but feel we need the security of a new relationship to replace what we have lost. We feel secure, loved and happy once more. So this way we don't feel alone, insecure, unloved and unwanted. 

But actually experiencing those negative feelings is key into moving on. 

We can fall into love or lust to something new with someone new once we have healed ourselves after a significant amount of alone time. Anything before that is just a quick fix.

People and situations are not replaceable but it seems that rebound relationships give us just that. Are we just sweeping things under the carpet and not actually dealing with those scary emotions?

How can we be with someone else so soon when really it might be more healthy to focus on alone time? 

I am not suggesting that we use this alone time to sit and wallow over the previous relationship, albeit I think this is allowed for a few days/weeks initially, but to focus on yourself. 

Starting new hobbies, making new friends etc. From this we are likely to experience those coping strategies of having to deal with grief but not by putting all of our energy into replacing the situation with someone new. 

This does seem a far healthier and reasonable thing to do. This way we are not isolating ourselves as we potentially are making new friends and starting new hobbies and having community and network based communications. We are growing independently, whilst processing grief positively but not isolating ourselves.

Distraction is great for overcoming certain levels of grief but to what detriment? .... Our own, potentially! For if we never really grab the bull by the horns and indulge in what can seem a scary place of alone time we are likely to suffer longer term.

People are scared of feelings and facing these painful emotions because they can make us feel quite depressed and anxious. 

But life isn't easy and part of life is experiencing the pain for sometime for us to successfully heal and move on to healthy relationships.

If this alone time is utilised well at the beginning of our grief I am sure that we will understand our own needs, thoughts and emotions far better than ignoring the emotion by rushing in to something new, no matter how good that feeling is.

Only by having alone time and experiencing a lot of grief am I able to say that I am able to think and process emotions in this way. Which makes me feel that in an adult relationship I am far more equipped to deal with difficulties if they arise than people who repeat the rebound cycle.

I have had 2 rebound relationships in my entire adult life and I can honestly say that long term they did not help. I liked the idea of that warm cosy feeling that I had lost and the excitement of a new partner but actually once that "honeymoon" phase had ended my emotions that I hadn't dealt with soon came back. 

You cant fix self esteem and confidence by using someone to fill the gap. You can only improve this by being alone and growing to love yourself ...singular.

I have been alone for some time and had many long periods of being alone and I know that I feel ok with myself. Sadly I have been unable to have a partner but I definitely know that jumping from relationship to relationship is a red flag for me and not helpful or healthy in the long run.

Perhaps that is why I am still single because the universe hasn't found anyone for me yet that isn't in rebound status?! 

For those in rebound relationships, well I hope for now it takes the pain away and it is replaced and soothed by those feelings of love and warmth but please be aware that people will struggle to be able to keep this act up for long before their own demons, lack of self esteem and self worth and confidence come creeping back which can cause great destruction in a relationship. 
Be your own anchor in your own storm, Don't rely upon someone else to be that for you. 

Take the time to indulge in self love, self soothing activities, some alone time. Do not rely on someone else to make you happy and to replace something so soon with out grieving for a sufficient amount of time. 

Yes, grief hurts and sucks and I know you want to do anything for the pain to go away and by being with someone else gives you that fix. But breaking that cycle is far more important for your own well being and the other persons well being and it will save it ending in tears further down the line. 

You will become a stronger and happier person.

Then and only then we can can move forward.

Monday 24 February 2020

My Plan A dream has crumbled...what's my plan B?

I sit and think about my future and when I say my future, I'm not thinking years a ahead I'm thinking more short term like the next 6 months for a start...

I just don't know what to do. I don't know what I want from life. What I truly wanted hasn't and isn't happening for me and I'm having to come to terms with this plan, lets call it plan A, potentially never happening. My plan A dream may never come and it's drifting further away. 

I don't know what other plan there could be? I never made a back up plan or plan B.

I'm so fixated on my play A I never gave a thought that I'd need another option.

Ok, so my plan A was to meet a man, get married and have kids. Sounds simple right. Yes, the conventional world of settling down. But I've not got anyone to do this with. 

So now what??????? 

I have thought about travelling but it wasn't truly my dream. It's just that I feel that's all there is left for me. Not a bad plan but not my first choice.

I mean I'm not sitting alone night after night in Birmingham having a crappy career, hardly any friends, minimal social life and sitting on my own forever. So travelling seems like the only other option. 

But when it's the unconventional and a potential plan B I didn't exactly want how do I get psyched for it? When my heart still longs for my plan A? 

When did being an adult get so difficult? 

I hear girls in their 20s and 30s saying they just want a plan A after experiencing heartache but even that makes me feel shitty because they have time. 

I feel like I have no time. Even if I did find the "one" who wants to grow old with me. If we were lucky enough to have a baby, these things take time. 

By that point all my friends will be living more Independant lives because their children will be growing up whilst I will be at sleepless night and nappy stage. I'd probably find myself not fitting in because most the other new parents would be young. 

I never seem to fit. I'm very adaptable to different environments, I've had to be, but I'd just like to fit in with the "normal" crowd for once.

It's like I literally can't see the wood for the trees. And as I think about this I reflect upon all the men that left and are doing my plan A with someone else, generally younger. 

So what's a girl to do?... How do I successfully let go of my plan A, the dream I've had my entire life and swap it for another plan?

How do I get excited about something new and a plan B? 

Turns out It looks like I'm probably going to have another couple of "Practice Wife" notches on my bed post. What is so wrong with me? Why do none of them want me? Why do they leave for someone younger and prettier? Well that's obvious I suppose, why have an over done, hard crispy egg yolk when you can have a juicy yellow runny one? 

I wish someone would just tell me what to do. 

The last hope I had of maybe my dream happening has well and truly disappeared for he is doing my plan A with someone new. Well in fact they all are. 

Do I continue to grieve for the loss of plan A never happening and hope someone comes up with a plan B for me. Or do I hope plan A still has a chance? 

I can't make such decisions. 

I feel like I'm loosing my mind. How do you make another choice when my hearts not in it? 

I am likely to opt to travel at some point which is exciting but it's just not quite as exciting for me as living with your soul mate, getting potentially married and growing a baby in your womb until you finally get to hold someone so precious. How do I convince myself of that? 

I feel so unbelievably empty and lost. I'm like a washed up broken shell on the beach who's insides have washed away. Hollow and pointless.

Monday 17 February 2020

The blind man

For the past 5 years I have lived on a regular road in the suburbs of Birmingham. 

This isnt the 1950s where everyone knows their neighbour's and leaves their front door willingly open. Our houses are secure and I rarely see my neighbours let alone know most of their names.  

We live in a society that doesn't observe we just look blankly through glazed tired rat race eyes. Can you even tell me what colour front door of the house opposite has or what curtains they have? Probably not. 

Being on a main road, emergency vehicles race past, allowing the room to glow flashing blue. Boy racers rev their annoying and unnecessary Vauxhall Corsas with ridiculous sized exhausts. Dogs sniff their waydown the path from lamppost to lamppost with their owners in toe. Parents push prams and grab hold of their children tightly so not to fall into the road. The post men scuttle up the road weaving their way in and out of the front gates.

A bus runs every 10 minutes into the city centre and I frequently watch double decker buses from my window pull up and collect and drop off more often than not an aray of cold looking people with ear phones in their ears staring blankly into there phone screens. It's a zombie nation.

Opposite my house on the other side of the road are a row of houses that over the years I've noticed that belong to several older residents. 

An elderly lady who lost her husband lives directly opposite me and I've become accustomed to her daily routine. And what time she opens and closes her curtains. What time she collects her newspaper and how she keeps seasoned flowers blooming in her garden so it constantly looks a bloom of colour. She is always dressed smartly and has her white hair set in her short style. 

Four doors down from her lives an elderly couple. A blind man and his wife. I'm unsure where he has been or where is going but several times a week he gets collected in a taxi and dropped off.

The regular taxi firm helps him get out of the car and I watch him walk back, occasionally stumbling using only his white cane. Dodging the uneven path where roots from trees have burst through the concrete.

His wife awaits at the door and always gives him a kiss before she takes the bag he is carrying from his arms. Before he takes the final step into their home. 

For his blindness prevents him seeing like you or I. Yet I feel he sees so much more. He may not see colour and shapes and be able to indulge in the power of sight but sometimes I think he sees more than me. 

I suffer from blindness yet I have full sight. His vision is probably more intact and unobsecured than mine is and he is blind.

I'm not sure if he has always been blind or whether it came on by an accident, trauma, illness and deterioration. 

As he sways his cane from side to side along the path and through his gate to his front door. I have no doubt in my mind that he knows that path better than the people who wait on it for the bus, who can physically see it. 

They say if you loose one of your senses, that the others over compensate. He can't see, but I bet he knows what flowers are planted in next doors garden, how tall the wall is, how stable the fence is, what music the neighbours play, what perfume the dog walker is wearing. He sees far more than any of us. 

I wouldn't wish actual blindness upon anyone but perhaps we should take a leaf out of his book and be more observant and engage in our senses. Look and see. For sight is beautiful let's not take it for granted. 

I am going to attempt to be more mindful and actually try to be more observant. See the things around me in greater detail. See things for what they really are. I'm hoping that this process will enable me to indulge in the weird and wonderful colourful world I live in. 

How well do you see? Are you at full vision or partially sighted? 

Sunday 16 February 2020

The Justice system, suicide (RIP Caroline Flack)

Hearing the news of a British TV presenter Caroline Flack who took her own life yesterday has stirred a lot of painful emotion for me today.

I don't know Caroline and can only base any form of opinion I might have upon her of what I've seen of her in the media and attempting to read between the lines.

What I do know is that a young beautiful, talented, woman has taken her life. 

I am assuming it felt like the only way out for Caroline. Something I have in the past can relate to. 

She has recently been in the public eye for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend, who has since wanted to drop all charges upon the "attack". 

No one knows, what went on between the couple. Caroline is likely to have lashed out at partner but we do not know or understand the circumstances for this reaction. What I can see is that she must have had a reason. Caroline did not appear to be someone who went around bludgening people. 

I am not condoning any form of physical abuse but I can also see that these events can so easily occadionally occur. She must have a had a reason for lashing out in the moment. She must have had some rage deep inside her at that very moment that she just lost control with. No, im not saying that it's right, but people were quick to judge and base opinions on her without knowing the entire story.

Despite the boyfriend wishing to drop charges. The Crime Prosecution Service (CPS) continued to go ahead with a trial. Now I'm not saying that she shouldn't have been arrested, cautioned or even charged on assault , because yes that is the law but I don't think that a "trial" was necessary. 

Usually a trial goes ahead when you plea not guilty to the charges made against you. 

Having been through dealings first hands with the CPS twice. I feel these are your choices...

Plea guilty to a crime that you don't feel that you are necessarily guilty of. Mitigating circumstances are dismissed and you are forced to say guilty to avoid trial. 


Plea not guilty and face a trial.

Caroline chose to plead not guilty and face trial. 

Having been through the the system twice, on both sides of the law. ( victim and offender) I found the CPS to be completely incompetent and had zero compassion. It felt like they didn't look at mitigating circumstances they just dismissed any grey area and "made an example of me". 

When I was sent to prison the judge used the words "make an example of". I feel that they were doing exactly the same in Caroline Flacks case, albeit for a very different crime. She was famous, she made a mistake it felt like they were saying" let's show the world that even if you're famous you don't get let off". Famous or not, no case should ever be made an example of. I mean make an example to who exactly? 

I was charged with "conspiracy to supply class A drugs coccaine" yet I am no more a drug dealer than anyone who has ever tried an illicit drug before. 

Ok so I turned a blind eye to my boyfriend at the time. But if your other half was dealing recreational drugs to his mates in the pub would you go running to the police? Doubtful. I know so many people that do recreational drugs and I'm sure that they are as popular as alcohol if you collated statistics upon it. 

Ok, so I knew my boyfriend at the time supplied to most of his mates. I know the town I lived in that many pub/ club goers were doing it. I chose to turn a blind eye, for it seemed the norm. Many people did and still do coccaine. 

My boyfriend was the dealer not me! Yet I was convicted. I'd never been in trouble with police before and not since. Yet I was forced to plead guilty to avoid a trial. I did not want to plead guilty as I wasn't guilty of being a "drug dealer" Yes, I was guilty of having turned a blind eye but who wouldn't?  

The stress of going through that, amongst other things, took me to a really dark place and having already experienced mental health problems can feel so much towards how Caroline Flack might have felt. 

I felt like my career was over, I'd lost friends, who in fact when shit hit the fan found out they weren't real friends at all. I drank more and spiralled, I was loosing myself. I was on bail for 6 months which was torture, I was unsure of what my future might hold. 

Police and barristers telling me that I'd get a suspenpended sentance or community service. Never once actually preparing me for the reality of a custodial sentence. 

People were mean, brutally mean at that. I experienced ridicule on social media, made to change my phone number, slagged off by people. If I went out socially I was the topic of conversation. I am an intelligent girl and it doesnt take a genius to know the whispers as I walked into a bar were aimed at me. I felt victimised by people's judgemental attitudes and behaviour towards me. Some people were dispicable and huge hypocrites. Dont those people think that I or indeed Caroline were suffering and felt bad enough without their actions and words making us feel worse?

It was mentioned in a tabloid that Caroline felt like her life was out of control and there was no way back and that she felt judged. Well that's exactly how I felt. 

We all make mistakes but how some people treat you when you do make one is enough to send any person let a lone a person who is à vulnerable person with mental health problems over the edge. 

I am not famous like Caroline Flack yet my home town, many people in it and the newspaper reports made me feel horrific. 

My heart goes out to Caroline and her family she leaves behind. 

The people who truly cared for her I can only imagine will have a combination of feelings. 

One of my friends took his life a few years ago and working in mental health for many years I know first hand the impact upon the loved ones it leaves behind. 

From my experience the loved ones quite often blame themselves and one of the many emotions can be guilt. These are the people that shouldn't feel guilty. 

The people who should feel guilty are the ones that judged. 

No one will know the reasons for Caroline taking her life and I'm sure there are a lot of contributing factors but what I do know is that those brutally mean people, the tabloids, those that judged her are likely to be one of the many contributing factors and for that they should feel ashamed. 

I've mentioned before that I've attempted to end my life and it's been after things becoming way to much to cope with. Ive been in the dark and could not see a future and felt there was no way out. At those times I couldnt see or think clearly, it seemed like the easiest option for me. In hindsight not for those who loved me. 

Suicide isn't a selfish act. Yes,  it might appear that way to onlookers without any understanding. But at that very moment before trying to end your life, I didnt have and others im sure didnt have the capacity to be selfish. In fact it feels the exact polar opposite because it feels like you no longer want you or your loved ones to suffer for the way you feel or for the things youve done. I for one can say when you are in that dark place you are not thinking clearly and it feels that although you know people love you it would just be easier in the long run if you didnt cause them or yourself any more pain. 

I am a survivor and now know that actually the scars of suicide cause far more pain to loved ones than making constant bad decisions and making mistake after mistake. 

For Caroline, couldn't see this because she was effective in completing taking her life as many others sadly will never realise. 

I do understand now having been there several times. Yes, I still occasionally have thoughts of thinking it would be easier but I've learnt that my true loved ones will still be here for me no matter how shit my life is or what mistakes I make. 

I know my parents would rather see me in prison again, crying, and feeling temporaily depressed than in a coffin. For there is no escape from a coffin there is always escape from tears, pain and depression. 

My heart sincerely goes out to Caroline and Carolines loved ones and to anyone else who has or is going through similar. I genuinely understand. 

I only wish society didn't judge. I will at some point write a post on the effects of social media and reality TV and the impact it has on mental wellbeing. 

But for now sleep well Caroline 

Friday 14 February 2020

Can we define love? (JJ & HFR)

I've been asking myself what love is right from the age of 14 years old, when I had my very first flutter in my heart whilst sitting playing Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo (SNES) in my friends bedroom.

As I stared at his petrol blue Kensington Freak jeans and Nike Air Max trainers I started to feel something that I had never felt before. I am unsure if it was a mental or a physical feeling, or a combination of the two.

I suppose at 14 hormones are kicking in and you are developing from a child into a teenager, in some cultures, this is even seen as adulthood, albeit I was still very much a child.

The sensations I felt were warm and fuzzy. For this boy was wonderful, although quite moody at times! He was 12 and a half, and yes sounds quite obscure talking about a boy of that age and attaching those sorts of emotions in that way but at the time it felt more than right. 

He was adorable. Big eyes, long eye lashes, he played the guitar, loved dogs, he was funny and kind and very romantic. He respected me. I fancied the pants off him for the way he looked, smelt and behaved.

He wrote me letters, which is a beautiful thing as children today wont ever experience that as it is all text messages and emojis. We used to write to each other and post through the letterbox of our family home.

We were at different schools and I used to run on my lunch break to his school to have a kiss over the fence, for I was in the first year of high school and could leave the premises at lunch time, where as he was still in middle school and stuck behind the school fence. After running there, which was a distance, probably the reason I have buggered knees now, we probably only had 10 - 15 minutes together but it was worth it.

This wasn't a sexual relationship by any stretch of the imagination, for back then sexual intimacy wasn't exactly on mind. 

This was different and oh so innocent. We made dens, played on our bikes, danced to MTV music videos, back when MTV actually played music videos instead of all this reality TV crap they show nowadays.

We had a love of the same music, back then we were both very much into Guns and Roses and Red Hot Chilli Peppers, which I do still like to listen to now. This boy was mad on Axl Rose and I drew him a picture of him, as I was an alright artist and wanted to do something nice for him. He displayed it proudly in his bedroom.

The connection we had was pretty epic, even though we were both so young and wondering what the hell the opposite sex is all about, not dissimilar to how I feel now if the truth be told.

We had our special songs and he gave me some fashionable dog tags engraved with our names on. For Christmas he bought me a friendship ring which I proudly wore.

In my school tie, I used to etch out the material and doodle our names on it next to hearts. 

I don't think we ever ushered the words " I love you" to each other but it didn't need to be said. There was no requirement for it. We both just knew how we felt and enjoyed the time we had. It was something deep and exciting, even at such a young age.

Unfortunately at that age there are so many other things going on and if I am honest playground bullshit. We started to get a bit older, he went to high school and not the one I was at, we met knew people and that sense of flirting came in. He became more moody and I started to get interest else where. Sadly it came to quite an ending resulting in him standing in front of me and ripping my carefully drawn Axl Rose picture in half whilst I then threw his precious Nike Air Max Trainer into some stinging nettles. Ode to be young!

It was unfortunate to say that what ever we had once was now indeed very much over. 

It wasn't until my mid twenties that we saw each other again, although I always kind of knew what he was up to and I think this was mutual. 

We had both moved on but somehow there was always this huge amount of respect for one another. I had never really had that from dipping in and out of any the relationships I'd had up to that point.

At that stage we would talk and laugh and reminisce about that period in our lives. We were never once mean or horrible to each other, despite the fact we had gone our separate ways.

I went through quite a bad patch what with failed relationships in my 20s but he always came through for me. 

He made me mixed CD's of songs that he knew would cheer me up and wrote a wooden sign on the side of the road which he knew I would see on my journey to work saying "you got this" with the  initial of my name" followed by "I care".

We started hanging around in a local pub together,  a large group of us who used sit in the pub and more often than not pile back to my flat or someone else's near by and drink, smoke, listen to music and play guitar.

He at this point had a girlfriend, who made it quite clear of her hatred for me because I was friends with him. I would never have jeopardised their relationship and respected he was with someone. He was someone from my childhood who I had and still had utmost respect for and vice versa, but nonetheless she made my life hell, even when I explained to her, she despised me. 

We gradually drifted apart over the years, but if I ever see him I know that that respect has never changed. There  will always be a place in my life for him, whether it be actively talking or not. 

Can you call that love? I don't know.

The Oxford English dictionary defines love as:

"An intense feeling of romantic attachment based on an attraction felt by one person for another; intense liking and concern for another person, typically combined with sexual passion"

If I correlate that definition to the feelings and even physical (I suppose sexual) sensations I felt back then to how I felt about this boy well when all is said and done I suppose it was love according to the Oxford English dictionary.

However, I don't wholeheartedly believe that definition. In principle it all sounds very nice and has the wow factor, who wouldn't want to feel that? But I think there is far more to it.

To me saying those 3 little words "I love you" and I am talking in a romantic sense of the word here, because lets face it you can love your family, friends, pet, the flowers in the garden or the smell of a bakery. I am talking about the other person, your significant other what ever and who ever that is.

To me it is more about actions than those words. I know with that boy, back then, and even now that the reason I had such great respect for him was because although neither of us said those words we proved it in our actions. The respect was constant and never waived, even now, I am sure if we saw each other that it would still be there.

I have had so many failed relationships since that time and the words, I love you have always been mentioned by both parties but actually their actions were far from showing that. Which makes me think, was it in fact love? It fits with the Oxford English definition at certain points of those relationships, but was never a constant within the relationship, in fact far from it at times.

Recently I have spent 5 months with someone who upon reflection felt not too dissimilar to the time I had with the boy when I was 14. The only difference being that this also included sexual intimacy.

This man came out of nowhere and if the truth be told I wasn't exactly looking for a relationship at that time for feeling quite lost and unsure of where my life was heading and carrying a lot of pain and hurt from previous relationships. I think the feelings that grew between us hit us both in the face like a steam roller. I don't think either of us were expecting to feel what we did.

It wasn't a conventional relationship, in fact from external observations, others wouldn't even classify it to be deemed as a relationship. But for us it was our relationship. Whatever that was. It was our "Bubble".

We spoke about everything. The intensity that we both experienced and shared in both an emotional and sexual way was something I know neither of us had experienced before. He was a real gentleman, he proved chivalry wasn't dead. He opened doors for me, hung my coat up, got my chair. Attentive didn't come close.

We didn't go out and have external distractions from the world we had each other and strangely that was enough. I think we knew if we faced the world it would be amazing but actually it seemed so much safer and easier to stay in our bubble.

He had the most amazing smile and snorted when he really laughed. His sense of humour was hilarious and we bounced off one another in fits of giggles. I was so attracted to him both physically and mentally.

Our confidence grew with one another and it was a crazy mixed bag of feelings. We were so open with one another and if an issue arose we spoke about it. We communicated amazingly. He was able to articulate his feelings so well and although at times I struggled to say what I felt, he tried his hardest to extract it from me instead of shutting me down and dismissing my difficulty.

We sat for hours talking, in such a small amount of time I felt like he knew me, like really saw me for the girl I was. He knew me better than any long term relationship boyfriend I'd had. I was vulnerable but so was he, he knew that, yet was so respectful he never once took advantage of that fact. Which he so easily could have.

I learnt so much about life and he taught me to grow as a person. I had never realised that men could be like this. 

In reflection, he is the most similar man to that of the 12 and a half year old boy I cared so much for. In fact in many ways looking back both are very similar characters. 

They are both, handsome, intelligent, emotionally articulate men. Most men I have met fall into these categories:

1: Not very intelligent but really fun who are emotionally stunted.
2: Very intelligent and no fun who are emotionally stunted

These two guys were both academically intelligent but also were street level intelligent, great fun and not afraid to show emotion, very rare. They are the only 2 men that have cried with me. 

Within our bubble he made me laugh, smile and we used to talk about the world in ways I had never seen before. The sex was unbelievably connected and both agreed that it was something to hang in the hall of fame! We connected on so many levels. It was escapism for us both from the lives that we found our selves so lost in.

He gave me nothing but respect and I provided the same. It was a constant.

He is probably the most honest man I have ever met, even said things I didn't want to hear, but that was why it worked so well. I never doubted him and trusted him implicitly. I know this was a two way feeling.

We both were at a point of vagueness and at cross roads in our lives. We never foresaw this happening yet we both knew deep down that it would be quite impossible for it to ever go anywhere. 

We lived in different countries and had grown up in different cultures and although that shouldn't matter, life is tough and not always practical and goes the way you would like.

When we both decided that what we had would have to come to an end it was probably the most precious experience I have had. I'm not sure if it was a break up as such as we were never actually together to be deemed in a traditional relationship.

It was difficult for us both as whatever we had I know that we both felt it.

For me conventional break ups have usually involved lack of communication, hatred, anger fuelled by bitterness and pain followed by harsh words or total silence.

This was far from that. Yes indeed there was pain, for both parties as something was coming to an end that had been something so significant in both our lives.

We sat and cried and hugged one another, you could feel the heartache in the room as we said our goodbyes.

He reiterated how much he valued, respected and cared for me and he knew I felt the same. For the entire time together the words "I love you" were never said. People say those words too readily nowadays, but along with those words do the actions come?

Our actions spoke volumes.

If I use that definition of the Oxford English dictionary I probably did love him. But there was so much more than that. The words he spoke to me were always backed up by his actions. The respect we have for one another and the experience that we shared is irreplaceable.

Some people never ever feel what I have felt when I was 14 and more recently with this man, which is sad because to me that is the definition of connection. It is a rare phenomenon.  

I know that I will always be able to pick up the phone and he will respond, I know that he too will carry this special arrangement we had in his heart forever. We will be able to be friends.

He will move on and so will I. Our paths are going in different directions but ultimately I know he too like the 12 and a half year old boy he will always be a happy memory. Never clouded with disappointment and destruction like the others.
Is he on his forever path? only he knows that, for it is not my journey to say or analyse.  Am I on my forever path? I think not.

Since our departure, I have asked him a few questions regarding the situation we found ourselves in and to prove that he values me, he would call immediately and talk this through with me. Someone without respect and someone who doesn't value me would not do that. I know he would not want to contribute to any more scars I have and has been nothing but honest and respectful.

This wasn't our time. But the time we had was intense and amazing and no one can ever take that away from either of us.

So is love definable?

Love is powerful and means different things to different people. I don't think you can define it yet we can all can feel it.

The men that have said "I love you" have never shown it by treating me with respect and valuing me. Yes, I have been attracted to them and liked parts of their personalities but actually there was a massive void. Their lack of communication skills proved to be challenging and in no doubt contributed to the animosity that grew inside us.

Yet the two men that have never said "I love you", gave me more respect and value than I could ever imagine possible.

Sadly in the numerous relationships I have had, I have only experienced this twice.

Will I ever experience it again? Who knows. The bar is set pretty high now and actually I am unsure if a deep and meaningful relationship is possible with the men I generally date.

I wish I could have been this insightful when I was 14! Hindsight is a beautiful thing!

I am truly grateful for having the experience with these two men as I am sure others might not have ever felt it.

I mean I was 14 years old when I first experienced it and I have only just experienced it again and I am 41 now. I didn't actually realise that I could feel this way or indeed have someone else feel this way and treat me with the respect I deserve until now. 

I thank both of these two men for allowing me to experience this and they will always be imprinted into my soul.

Can I define love? Maybe I can now, maybe I cant. But I certainly understand the actions that should follow the words "I love you" These two men have enabled me to do this. Are words that important anyway?

As the age old saying goes "Actions speak louder than words ever will"... I concur

Dedicated to JJ & HFR

Wednesday 12 February 2020

KINTSUGI - Broken but Beautiful

A couple of weeks ago I went to visit someone that knows me extremely well and has been there for me through many years of on and off pain and heartache. I sat and sobbed about most of which I write my blog about. The words that she said to me were gentle, kind and warm.

We discussed how I felt broken and that my wounds would heal with time. She didn't underestimate the heartache I am feeling and the difficult emotions I had gone through.

As the tears fell, I could barely speak and she gently sat opposite with kind eyes and occasionally giving me a touch of her hand on my leg to show her support through human contact. I needed the comfort that day.

She sat and listened and was never once judgmental upon my words that were being expelled like verbal diarrhoea.

Once I finally gained some control back and I had officially ran out of tears, surrounded by snotty tissues and a very puffy face.

She sat and gazed at me and said the words "Broken but Beautiful" I asked her what she meant by this (strangely a person I care an awful lot about has also mentioned this concept before fairly recently in general conversation).

She went on to explain to me what Kintsugi is. 

For those of you who don't know, Kintsugi is a philosophy taken from Japanese Zen Buddism particularly their approach on  how they treat ceramics. 

Kin meaning golden 
tsugi  meaning joinery

It literally means "to join with gold". It belongs to Wabi Sabi, Zen ideal. This Zen embraces old weathered, unpretentious, broken, simple things.

It is said to have originated from 1358-1408, the Muromachi period. 

Without going into great detail of the story of how it originated. A dude called Ashikaga Yoshimitsu broke his favourite bowl and sent it to China to be repaired but upon its return he thought it looked ugly as they had used staples to fix it. He paid craftsmen to come up with a better idea to fix it, what they came up with was accentuating the broken pieces and fractures in the bowl making it look a piece of art.

Sometime between 1522 and 1599 a guy called Sen no Rikya was invited to a party and expensive gifts were shown off including an expensive tea jar he was far more interested in a tree blowing in the wind than any of the gifts that were there. The host of the party was annoyed and smashed the expensive tea jar the other guests put it together again using kintsugi. Next time Rikya went over the hosts house, he admired the tea jar that he had easily dismissed last time and suggested that it was now "magnificent". 

So basically broken ceramics are now treasured and fixed using particles of gold in the form of kintsugi.

Broken pots and vases and other ceramic items in this way with golden scars shining brightly through the ceramic look beautiful and more interesting than the unbroken vase/pot. 

So if we use this analogy on people. People who feel imperfect and damaged, ultimately "broken" they may well be far more beautiful and interesting than someone with out fractures, because they are filled with gold.

This person turned to me and said "If you were a vase and the kintsgui concept was applied, you my dear are more beautiful and interesting than you think. You will stand out with your golden fractures on a shelf more than the brand new unbroken vase".

At this the tears flowed again I thought that was one of the nicest and kindest things anyone has ever said to me.

Despite my flaws, my heartache and feelings of being broken, I am beautiful and interesting with my golden fractures. I am proud of my golden scars. The more fractures you get and the harder smashed you have been the more gold appears within you.

So if any of you feel the way I do and feel like a broken vase, just remember using the art of kintsugi you can be the most beautiful and interesting vase going. Broken but beautiful.

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Which Spice Girl do men want? - The differences of moving on

I guess it's obvious really by reading my blog that I long for a meaningful lasting connection with a man that develops into a relationship but I struggle to have one.

Men have come and gone but never stuck around. Like I mention in my post "The Practice Wife" I am unsure why they cheat, lie and move on so rapidly. 

I've read other blogs, articles and books on why men do move on so fast. The general theme that arises in most cases is because men feel like they can't process their emotions like women do post break up. Obviously there is always exception to this rule. So why can't they?

Women can do exactly what I'm doing by disclosing their feelings, talking it through, researching, eating tubs of icecream or not eating. Overthinking, analysing everything ever said, discussing it with friends and cry. Women go through this process for a while before contemplating dating another man. The process is painful and causes so much heart ache  but professionals say that this process is healthy albeit causing suffering but should enable the heartbroken to move on with a deeper and better understanding of themselves and relationships.

Although some men might wish they could do that and some already might. Studies suggest that they generally don't because a failed relationship whether it be long or short term if any emotion was involved then once it fails, this isn't seen as manly. To have failed and have emotion. It goes back to fight or flight and the caveman in them. They cannot tolerate sitting with the emotion.

So instead of processing their emotions by grabbing the nearest tub of ice cream or calling up their bestie to re read over texts/social media and asking constant questions. They seek female attention elsewhere to sooth their emotions and for them to feel manly again. They then feel on top of the world getting a fresh new sexual and emotional input from another devoted girl. Pat on the back for the guys!

Of course this sounds amazing, all the rush and excitement of a new lover, we all know how that feels. So maybe men actually deal with heartache in a far better way? Maybe they've got it right?

But life is never that straight forward is it? So actually whilst they are living the new dream they never learn to deal with emotions very well, They compartmentalize, so more often than not will continue to repeat this behaviour cycle and I question is that real happiness?

Maybe if they learnt to have time alone and to feel the emotion they are experiencing no matter what that emotion was, yes they too would suffer like us girls, but actually they might start to gain clarity, be more sensitive and have healthier relationships and be able to deal with uncomfortable emotions far better. Just a thought 🤔

Relationships have ups and downs and perhaps when shit does hit the fan they've learnt to process emotions instead of shutting down and moving on to the next. 

The majority of the men I've been in relationships with who have either cheated or jumped straight into a new relationship have not gone on to last, likely to then cause the next girl the exact same heartache I have. Us women do have a raw deal.

We grieve in different ways. Of course like I said there is always the exception to the rule which goes both ways.

Having so much time to reflect on me and all this emotional crap I've been through over the past 20 years I am beginning to think why do I even want a relationship with a man?

In my experience, I've either been treated badly and I've stuck at it hoping things will change but then it ends badly anyway which results in heartache. Or I've had lovely relationships with lovely men but they dont feel the same and they move on quickly and it results in heartache. 

So to sum it up whether I've had good or bad relationships they all end in heartache. So why would I put myself through that again, makes me think. 

Maybe it's me, maybe I'm just not marriage material. After all no one wants to marry the 90s Spice Girl Geri,  which is how I've been described before. Men want to marry a Posh or Baby, or so I've been told. 

I've no idea what men want. But I certainly know that I can be...

A Sporty at the gym
A Baby when meeting parents
A Scary at the party
A Geri in the bedroom
A Posh as a sexy mother type girl 

So I guess only time will tell if I decide to enter another relationship or even if i get the opportunity. They've got to be pretty amazing if any of them think I will date, shag and have a relationship with them.

So I suppose it's either about keeping faith or loosing faith....?

Public Emotion

So today I've had to venture outside of the prison walls I call home as I need to go to the building society to discuss my finances. I have walked through crowds of people, I'm limping due to my knee pain and I feel like I'm observing some kind of movie of my life. Feels so surreal and uncomfortable. Like an outter body experience, watching my every move from a movie lense.

The brief eye contact I make with others feels painful, I always say that the eyes are a way of seeing into a soul. I feel like everyone who glances at me can see the pain In my eyes. It's like a feeling of being totally naked and vulnerable in public. 

Either that, or the lack of sleep, tear stained face, puffy, swollen black eyes, dishelveled hair is a huge giveaway. I look like a wreck. 

As I look around I see and hear things that somehow trigger painful emotion inside me. I am trying so hard to keep the tears at bay, but this causes my facial expression to wrinkle in such a way it's obvious I look upset. Trying to make it into a semi forced smile at passers by. I feel like I'm in slow motion and the world and everyone in it is speeding past me at a million miles per hour. 

My heart is racing, I feel sick. Everywhere I look people are busying through their day. I wonder how many of them also feel like crap? Probably more than I think. Who else is holding back the tears and fighting to breathe?

I sit and wait to have my "skype" appointment, I watch the que forming in the building society, people paying bills, paying in and taking out cash whilst I try and numb my hearing from the songs playing in which every word feels like it's describing my life. Like I'm in some weird Truman Show or something.

I eventually have 45 minutes to chat to a guy the other side of the computer screen. He politely asks me how I am and how can he help me. Too which I feel like breaking down in tears and saying "I don't know exactly,  please help me I'm dying here, make this pain stop" But instead I semi smile and day " ok thanks, I'd like to look at a new mortgage" I felt like screaming out and shaking the massive screen he appeared in, I chose to sit and listen about my options. 

As the meeting comes to an end the screen goes blank and he disappears, not too different to the people in my life. They engage in conversation one minute and gone the next. Isn't it strange how things seem ok and you feel happy then wham a massive slap in the face. Knowing only a few weeks ago you were doing things you enjoy and spending time with the people you love.

As I stumble and limp back to the car, my knee burning in pain I have to make a real effort not to just lie on the floor in a heap and sob loudly. My eyes sting trying to suppress the tears, the lump in my throat is stopping the air flow. My head pounds, I feel like someone has a hold of my stomach in a vice and is squeezing it pushing on my diaphragm making me gasp for breath. I cannot wait to get home. 

I'm surrounded by shops advertising love, hearts and romance as it is soon to be Valentine's day. Something I'm not overly a big fan of and actually think it's just hyped up commercial bullshit because if youre in love it should be celebrsted everyday not just once a year but I suppose somewhere in me has that sadness and longing that the man of my dreams would just whisk me away and tell me everything is going to be alright. 

My mind starts to over think about the person I cared for most and how they will be spending Valentine's with their new love. I feel sick, like I could vomit at any minute. That sense of rejection and knowing someone is getting what I want and knowing she was a better option destroys my soul. Questionning myself       "what was wrong with me?"

I have to escape from here, as I make my way back home in the silent car only the sound of wind. I cannot face music for the fear of it triggering memories and emotions I'm too exhausted to have. I feel relief not to be subjected to those triggers as I sit in silence and wearily drive home on auto pilot.

I thought being out of the house might help and lift my spirit but actually it turns out I couldn't wait to return to the security of what felt like a prison cell only a few hours ago. 

It's like I don't want to be anywhere, well at least for too long. No where feels safe, no where feels relaxed. I feel restless and sick. I know it's my state of mind and not the places but I wish it would pass. 

Trying to be happy for someone else when you feel like you're collapsing under a tonne of bricks is a challenge. 

Sometimes I wish I could feel numb and not have emotion.

I pray for peace and respite from my thoughts, for distraction I sit and watch the dynamics in my tropical fish tank. I wonder if they feel emotion? I kind of hope they don't but I suppose emotions are great if they are warm and fuzzy. I'd like to hope my fish can feel those positive emotions, perhaps they do as I complete the morning ritual of talking to them as I feed them. 

But with positive always comes a negative just look at batteries and screw drivers! Whoever invented them must have been deluded, wouldn't it be nicer to have just had positives? I suppose it all comes back to balance. Maybe this rollercoaster I'm on will eventually balance me back out as we require a combination of good and bad?